Your Ultimate Tulum Travel Guide 2023
Tulum, Mexico is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. With its stunning white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and ancient Mayan ruins, it’s easy to see why Tulum is a top travel destination. But there is so much more to explore in this beautiful part of Mexico. From adventure activities like ziplining and cenote swimming to hidden gems like boutique restaurants and local markets, there is something for everyone in Tulum. In this post, we will be sharing our ultimate guide to Tulum, including travel tips and must-visit destinations.
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Tulum
- Visit The Tulum Mayan Ruins: One of the most popular attractions in Tulum is the ancient Mayan ruins located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. This site is well-preserved and provides visitors with a unique insight into the Mayan civilization that once inhabited the area. You can take a guided tour or explore on your own.
- Relax On Tulum’s Beaches: Tulum has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The powdery white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water make it the perfect spot to unwind and soak up the sun. You can spend your day lounging on the beach, swimming in the ocean, or trying out water sports such as snorkeling or paddleboarding.
- Explore Tulum’s Cenotes: A cenote is a natural swimming hole formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, and Tulum has some of the most stunning ones in the world. The cenotes are a unique attraction that allows visitors to swim in crystal-clear freshwater pools surrounded by lush vegetation and awe-inspiring rock formations.
- Visit The Tulum Art Walk: Every Thursday evening, the town’s main street transforms into a vibrant art walk featuring local artists showcasing their work. You can enjoy live music, delicious food, and purchase unique souvenirs from local artisans.
- Go On A Jungle Adventure: The surrounding jungle offers an array of outdoor activities such as zip-lining, ATV rides, and jungle tours. These activities offer a thrilling way to explore Tulum’s beautiful natural landscape and are perfect for adventure seekers.
Best Tulum Tours
Tours in Tulum are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Tulum (which we don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
Where To Stay In Tulum
- Tulum Beach: This is the most popular neighborhood for tourists and the best place to stay if you’re looking for beachfront accommodations. The beach is lined with boutique hotels, yoga studios, and restaurants. It’s also home to the famous Tulum Ruins, which are just a short walk away.
- La Veleta: This neighborhood is just a short bike ride or drive from the beach and is a popular spot for long-term expats and digital nomads. It has a more laid-back atmosphere with plenty of affordable apartments and budget-friendly restaurants.
- Aldea Zama: This is a newer neighborhood located between Tulum town and the beach. It’s a more upscale area with modern, luxury condos and villas. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for a quieter location with easy access to both the beach and town.
- Tulum Pueblo: This is the downtown area of Tulum and is a great option if you’re on a tight budget. It has a more local feel with colorful street art, bustling markets, and traditional Mexican eateries. You can find hostels, guesthouses, and budget hotels in this area.
- Tankah Bay: If you’re looking for a more secluded, off-the-beaten-path experience, Tankah Bay might be the perfect neighborhood for you. It’s located about 15 minutes north of Tulum and has a few small boutique hotels and beach clubs. The beach here is more rugged, but the water is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling.
Top Tulum Hotels
- Hotel Esencia: Located on the Riviera Maya, Hotel Esencia is one of the most luxurious and exclusive hotels in Tulum. With only 42 rooms, each designed to offer an individual and authentic experience, the hotel boasts an elegant and sophisticated décor that is the perfect mix of contemporary and traditional styles. The hotel also features a beautiful infinity pool, private beach, and spa facilities.
- Casa Malca: Previously owned by Pablo Escobar, Casa Malca is a unique and luxurious hotel that offers guests an unforgettable experience. Each of the 41 rooms is designed with a contemporary style that includes stunning art and modern furnishings. The hotel also has its own private beach and an impressive rooftop pool.
- Papaya Playa Project: This eco-conscious hotel is designed to offer guests an experience that is in harmony with the natural beauty of Tulum. Papaya Playa Project features rustic rooms and treehouses, with stunning ocean views. The hotel also features two beach clubs, a restaurant that serves organic, locally-sourced food, and a wellness center.
- Be Tulum: If you’re looking for a luxurious, laid-back stay in Tulum, then Be Tulum is the perfect choice. Each of the hotel’s 64 rooms is beautifully designed with a minimalistic and chic style that includes natural materials like stone, wood, and marble. Be Tulum also features two swimming pools, a private beach, and an incredible restaurant.
- Azulik Tulum: Known for its unique and unforgettable architecture, Azulik is a perfect choice for those who are looking for an unusual and stylish stay in Tulum. With just 48 rooms, each designed to be in harmony with the environment, the hotel features private decks and breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Azulik also has an impressive rooftop spa, where you can enjoy massages and yoga classes while admiring the stunning view.
Where To Eat In Tulum
When it comes to dining in Tulum, there is no shortage of delicious options. From trendy beachfront restaurants to local street vendors, Tulum has it all. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Tulum:
- Hartwood: This iconic restaurant in the heart of Tulum’s jungle is a must-visit. With a farm-to-table philosophy, the menu is ever-changing, but you can expect fresh seafood and local ingredients cooked to perfection over a wood-fired grill. The ambiance is magical with twinkling lights, rustic decor, and an open-air dining experience.
- Posada Margherita: For authentic Italian cuisine with a Mexican twist, head to Posada Margherita. This charming beachfront restaurant offers homemade pasta, wood-fired pizza, and fresh seafood dishes. The picturesque setting with stunning ocean views is the cherry on top.
- Taqueria La Eufemia: Looking for a casual, affordable spot for some tasty tacos and cold beers? Taqueria La Eufemia is your place. This colorful beach shack serves up delicious and authentic Mexican street food, including fish tacos, shrimp tacos, and chicken quesadillas. Plus, the beachfront location makes for the perfect spot to soak up the sun.
- Cetli: For a unique and elevated dining experience, check out Cetli. This cozy, candlelit restaurant offers traditional Mexican dishes with a modern twist. The chef, Claudia Perez Rivas, uses fresh, local ingredients to create unforgettable flavors. Be sure to try the Mole de Castilla or the Wild Mushroom Tostadas.
- Raw Love: If you’re in the mood for something healthy, Raw Love is a great option. This vegan and gluten-free cafe offers smoothie bowls, salads, and raw vegan desserts that taste just as good as they look. The vibrant setting, with swings and colorful murals, adds to the overall fun atmosphere.
No matter where you decide to eat in Tulum, you’re sure to have a memorable dining experience.
How To Get Around Tulum
- Bike: Renting a bike is a great option for exploring Tulum. Many of the attractions are within biking distance, and you’ll have the freedom to stop whenever you want to take in the scenery or snap some photos. Bikes are also a good way to get to the beach from town.
- Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Tulum, but they can be expensive. Make sure to negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in, and be aware that some drivers may try to charge more if they sense that you’re a tourist.
- Collectivo: A collectivo is a shared minivan that runs along specific routes throughout the town. They’re a great option if you’re traveling with a group, as they’re much cheaper than a taxi. Just keep in mind that they can be a bit cramped and hot.
- Car Rental: If you’re planning to do some exploring outside of Tulum, renting a car is a good option. You can rent a car at the airport or in town, but keep in mind that driving in Mexico can be a bit hectic.
- Walking: Tulum is a great town to explore on foot, especially if you’re staying in the center of town. Just be aware that the sidewalks can be uneven, so watch your step.
No matter what method of transportation you choose, be sure to keep safety in mind. Always wear a helmet when biking, and make sure to buckle up if you’re in a taxi or rental car. And if you’re walking, be aware of your surroundings and stick to well-lit areas at night.
Tulum, Mexico, enjoys a tropical climate that is influenced by the Caribbean Sea and the nearby jungle. Visitors can expect warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine all year round, but there are some variations in the weather that are worth noting. Here’s what you can expect in Tulum, Mexico, during each season.
- Spring: From March to May, Tulum and Cancun experience a dry season, with low humidity and average temperatures ranging from 75°F to 85°F. This is a great time to visit for those who want to avoid the summer crowds, but keep in mind that this is also the busiest time for Spring Breakers.
- Summer: The summer months of June through August are the hottest and most humid time of year in Tulum, with temperatures reaching up to 95°F. This is the high season for tourism, as visitors flock to the beaches and popular attractions. Occasional rain showers can provide some relief from the heat.
- Fall: From September to November, Tulum experiences a brief rainy season, which can lead to occasional storms and hurricanes. Temperatures begin to cool down slightly, with averages ranging from 70°F to 80°F. The fall is a quieter time to visit, as many tourists return to school and work.
- Winter: From December to February, Tulum experiences a dry season with pleasant temperatures ranging from 70°F to 80°F. This is another popular time to visit Tulum, with visitors escaping the colder temperatures of the northern hemisphere. The winter season can also bring some chilly evenings, so it’s important to bring warm clothing for those times.
Overall, Tulum offers great weather conditions all year round, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a tropical getaway. It’s important to pack your checked luggage accordingly for each season, and check the weather forecast prior to your trip to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
Best Time To Visit Tulum
Tulum is an all-year-round destination, but the best time to visit really depends on your preferences and what you want to do while you’re there. High season in Tulum falls between December and March, when the weather is dry, sunny, and warm, making it the ideal time for outdoor activities and beach lounging. However, this also means that it’s the busiest and most expensive time to visit, with crowds of tourists and higher hotel rates.
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and save some money, the best time to visit Tulum is during the shoulder season, which falls between April and May, and November. During these months, the weather is still warm and dry, but the crowds are much smaller, and you can find some great deals on accommodation.
If you’re more interested in whale watching or turtle nesting, the best time to visit Tulum is from May to October when these events take place. However, keep in mind that this is also the rainy season, and you might encounter some wet weather. The low season in Tulum runs from June to October when the weather is hot and humid, with occasional rain showers and the possibility of hurricanes. However, this is also the best time to score great deals on accommodation and experience Tulum’s nightlife scene.
Overall, the best time to visit Tulum really depends on what you’re looking for, and what you want to do while you’re there. If you’re looking for sunny weather, outdoor activities, and crowded beaches, then high season is the best time to visit. However, if you’re looking for more affordable rates, smaller crowds, and unique experiences like whale watching, then consider visiting during the shoulder or low seasons.
How To Stay Safe In Tulum
Tulum is generally considered a safe destination, but like any tourist hotspot, there are a few Tulum safety precautions you should take to ensure you have a smooth and safe trip. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while in Tulum:
- Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Tulum is a relatively safe city, but it’s still important to stay aware of your surroundings at all times, especially at night. Avoid walking alone in dark or deserted areas, and stick to well-lit, populated areas.
- Protect Your Valuables: Tulum is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your valuables unattended. Keep your passport, cash, and credit cards in a safe place, and consider using a money belt to keep them secure while out and about.
- Use Official Taxis: When traveling around Tulum, it’s best to use official taxis. They are typically more reliable and safer than unlicensed taxis, which can be found in some areas. Always check to make sure the taxi has a working meter before getting in.
- Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol: While Tulum is a fun and exciting place to explore, it’s important to know your limits when it comes to alcohol. Excessive drinking can impair your judgment and make you an easy target for criminals. Be sure to drink responsibly and never leave your drink unattended.
- Know The Emergency Numbers: In case of an emergency, it’s important to know the local emergency numbers. The number for the police is 911 in Tulum, and the number for medical emergencies is 065.
By taking these simple precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Tulum. Remember to always trust your instincts and use common sense when exploring the city. With a little planning and awareness, you’ll have a great time in this beautiful Mexican destination.
Tulum Customs and Etiquette
When traveling to Tulum, it’s important to understand the local customs and etiquette. Tulum is a laid-back town that embraces its Mayan heritage, so it’s important to show respect to the culture and its people.
One of the most important customs to understand is the use of Spanish language. While English is widely spoken in the tourist areas, knowing a few Spanish phrases can go a long way in showing respect to locals. “Hola” (hello) and “gracias” (thank you) are simple yet effective phrases that can be used throughout your trip.
In addition, dressing modestly is appreciated in Tulum, especially when visiting the Mayan ruins. Clothing that covers the shoulders and knees is recommended out of respect for the local culture. When visiting someone’s home or a business, it’s customary to greet the host or business owner with a handshake and a friendly smile. In Tulum, it’s also common to use the term “buen provecho” before and after a meal to express appreciation for the food.
While Tulum is a laid-back destination, it’s important to be mindful of the environment. Littering and damaging the natural surroundings are frowned upon and can have a negative impact on the local ecosystem. Overall, showing respect and kindness to the locals and their customs will enhance your Tulum experience and leave a positive impression on the community.
Other Things To Know About Tulum
Tulum is located in Mexico, a country in North America. The currency used in Tulum, as well as the rest of Mexico, is the Mexican peso. The official language is Spanish, but many people also speak English, especially in tourist areas like Tulum. Tulum operates in the Central Standard Time zone, which is 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-6). It’s important to keep in mind the time difference when planning flights or making arrangements with locals. Knowing these basic facts about Tulum will help you navigate the area more easily and make the most out of your travels.
Tulum Travel Costs
If you’re planning a trip to Tulum, it’s important to budget accordingly. Here’s what you can expect in terms of travel costs:
- Accommodation: Tulum offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget hostels. A basic hostel dorm room can cost around $10-20 per night, while a mid-range hotel will cost around $70-150 per night. If you’re looking for something more luxurious, you can expect to pay upwards of $300 per night.
- Food: Tulum is known for its incredible food scene, with everything from traditional Mexican cuisine to international fare. You can expect to pay around $10-20 for a meal at a mid-range restaurant, while street food and taco stands can cost as little as $1-2 per taco.
- Transportation: Tulum is a small town, so it’s easy to get around on foot or by bike. If you need to take a taxi, expect to pay around $5-10 for a short ride.
- Activities: There are plenty of free and low-cost activities to enjoy in Tulum, such as visiting the ruins, exploring the beaches, and hiking in the jungle. Paid activities like snorkeling or visiting a cenote will cost around $50-100.
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around $30-50 per day in Tulum, while mid-range travelers can budget for around $100-150 per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of $300 per day. Keep in mind that prices can vary depending on the season and time of year, so be sure to do your research and plan accordingly.
Finding Affordable Flights To Tulum
If you’re on a budget and looking for ways to save money on your Tulum trip, finding affordable flights should be one of your top priorities. Luckily, there are several ways to find cheap flights to Tulum. One of the first things you should do is to set up flight alerts. This will notify you when the price of a flight drops so you can snag the deal before it’s gone. You can use websites like Google Flights or Skyscanner to set up alerts for your desired dates and destination.
Another tip is to be flexible with your travel dates. Flights tend to be cheaper on weekdays, so try to avoid traveling on weekends if possible. You can also try searching for flights during the low season (May-November) when prices are generally lower.
If you have frequent flyer miles or credit card points, consider using them to book your flight. This can help you save money on the overall cost of your trip.
Lastly, be sure to compare prices on different airlines and travel websites. Some airlines may offer cheaper flights to Tulum than others, so it’s worth taking the time to do your research. By following these tips, you should be able to find affordable flights to Tulum without breaking the bank. Remember, the more money you save on your flight, the more you can spend on exploring all that Tulum has to offer!
Backpacking Tulum Suggested Budgets
Backpacking through Tulum can be a fun and affordable way to explore this beautiful region of Mexico. However, it’s important to have a budget in mind to make sure you’re not overspending or running out of money before your trip is over.
Here are some suggested budgets for backpacking in Tulum:
If you’re on a tight budget, you can get by with $30-40 per day. This includes a bed in a dorm room, street food or budget-friendly restaurants, and taking public transportation or renting a bike. You can also visit the beach and cenotes for free.
For a more comfortable backpacking experience, budget around $60-80 per day. This includes a private room in a hostel, meals at mid-range restaurants, renting a bike or scooter, and taking tours or participating in activities like snorkeling or kayaking.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious backpacking experience, you can expect to spend around $100-150 per day. This includes a private room in a nicer hostel or budget hotel, meals at upscale restaurants, renting a car or taking taxis, and participating in more expensive activities like diving or visiting archaeological sites.
Keep in mind that prices may vary depending on the season and your own spending habits. It’s always a good idea to have a little extra money set aside in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses. Overall, backpacking in Tulum is an affordable and fun way to experience all that this stunning destination has to offer. With a little planning and budgeting, you can make the most of your trip without breaking the bank.
Tulum Money Saving Tips
If you’re traveling on a budget, Tulum can be a great destination choice. With some careful planning and budgeting, you can experience all that this charming town has to offer without breaking the bank. Here are some money-saving tips to help you get the most out of your trip to Tulum:
- Travel Off-Season: Tulum’s high season is from December to April when prices for everything from accommodation to dining tend to be higher. Traveling during the low season, which runs from May to November, can save you money.
- Stay In Hostels: If you’re looking for budget accommodation, hostels can be a great option. Tulum has a number of well-reviewed hostels that offer affordable beds and shared spaces for travelers on a budget.
- Eat At Local Restaurants: Tulum has many street vendors and local restaurants that offer delicious and affordable food. These places can often be a better option than tourist-oriented restaurants and can help you save a lot of money.
- Take Public Transportation: Tulum has local buses, colectivos, and taxis, which are all inexpensive and efficient ways to get around. You can also rent a bike, which is a fun and affordable way to explore the town.
- Plan Activities Ahead of Time: Tulum has plenty of free activities like swimming in cenotes, exploring the town on foot, and hiking through the jungle. However, if you’re interested in paid activities like tours, it’s best to book them in advance online, which can save you money and help you avoid long queues.
- Look For Deals And Discounts: Be on the lookout for deals and discounts on things like accommodations and activities. Many businesses in Tulum offer discounts during the low season or have special offers on their websites.
By following these money-saving tips, you can enjoy all that Tulum has to offer without breaking the bank. Remember, it’s not always about how much you spend but how you spend it. With a bit of creativity, you can have a fantastic vacation without overspending.
What To Pack For Tulum
Packing for Tulum can be tricky as it’s important to strike a balance between staying comfortable in the hot and humid weather while also looking stylish and fashionable. Here are some items that you should consider packing for your trip to Tulum:
- Lightweight Clothing: As mentioned earlier, the weather in Tulum can be hot and humid, so it’s essential to pack light, breathable clothes that can help you stay cool. You may also want to consider packing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
- Swimsuits: With Tulum’s stunning beaches and cenotes, you won’t want to miss out on the chance to take a dip in the water. Pack at least two swimsuits so that you have a backup when one is wet or in the wash.
- Comfortable Shoes: While you may be tempted to pack heels or dress shoes, it’s best to stick to comfortable shoes like sandals or sneakers, especially if you plan to explore the area or take part in any adventure activities.
- Bug Spray: Mosquitoes and other bugs can be a nuisance, especially in the evenings. Make sure to pack some bug spray to protect yourself.
- Water Bottle: Tulum’s tap water is not safe for drinking, so make sure to pack a reusable water bottle that you can fill up with bottled water or purified water.
- Cash and Cards: While many establishments in Tulum do accept credit cards, it’s always good to have some cash on hand. Make sure to bring both pesos and US dollars.
- Camera or Smartphone: Tulum is full of Instagram-worthy spots, so make sure to bring a camera, laptop or smartphone to capture all of your adventures.
- Portable Charger: If you plan to spend a lot of time out and about, it’s a good idea to bring a portable charger to keep your phone or camera charged.
By packing these essential items, you’ll be ready to take on all that Tulum has to offer! Traveling to Mexico for some time? Check out our Acapulco travel guide.
Can You Drink Tap Water In Tulum?
As a visitor, it’s best to avoid drinking tap water in Tulum to avoid any stomach issues. The water may be contaminated, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and stick to bottled water. Most hotels and restaurants provide filtered or bottled water for their customers, so you can easily find safe options. Be sure to also avoid ice cubes in drinks, as they may have been made with tap water. Staying hydrated is essential in Tulum’s hot and humid climate, so stock up on bottled water to ensure a comfortable and healthy trip.
Other Things To See And Do In Tulum
Tulum is known for its pristine beaches and crystal clear waters, but there are plenty of other things to see and do in this beautiful Mexican paradise.
- Explore the Mayan Ruins: The Tulum ruins are a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the area. Located on a cliff overlooking the ocean, these ancient ruins offer stunning views and a glimpse into Mexico’s rich history.
- Swim in Cenotes: A cenote is a natural swimming hole created by the collapse of limestone bedrock. There are plenty of cenotes to explore in and around Tulum, each with its own unique charm.
- Visit Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a vast area of protected land that includes lagoons, mangroves, and the second-largest coral reef in the world. Take a guided tour to explore the area’s diverse flora and fauna.
- Go on a Bike Tour: Tulum is a bike-friendly town, and there are plenty of bike rental shops around town. Explore the local area and discover hidden gems by going on a bike tour.
- Experience Temazcal: A Temazcal is a traditional Mexican sweat lodge used for physical and spiritual purification. Book a Temazcal session at one of the many local spas and enjoy a unique and immersive experience.
- Take a Cooking Class: Learn how to cook authentic Mexican cuisine by taking a cooking class with a local chef. You’ll get to enjoy your creations afterward and impress your friends and family back home.
- Enjoy a Beach Party: Tulum is famous for its beach parties, especially during the high season. Grab a drink and dance the night away with locals and visitors alike.
With so much to see and do in Tulum, you’ll never be bored during your stay. From exploring ancient ruins to swimming in natural swimming holes, Tulum offers something for everyone.
The Bottom Line
Tulum is a magical destination that offers visitors a unique combination of beautiful beaches, stunning ancient ruins, and a rich cultural heritage. From relaxing on the pristine white sand beaches to exploring the awe-inspiring ruins of the Mayan civilization, Tulum has something for everyone. To make the most of your trip to Tulum, be sure to plan ahead and take note of our travel tips and must-visit destinations. Whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation, Tulum has plenty to offer.
With our suggestions for affordable travel and money-saving tips, you can make the most of your trip without breaking the bank. So why wait? Start planning your Tulum adventure today and experience all that this enchanting destination has to offer. With its breathtaking beauty and rich cultural heritage, Tulum is truly a travel destination like no other.